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UCDA survey highlights county’s strengths/challenges

Published: Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 10:57 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 7, 2013 2:03 p.m. CDT

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The community has spoken.

The 2012 public input survey, conducted by Union County Development Association (UCDA), has been compiled and published. The survey provides data and comments regarding the strengths and weaknesses of Union County.

And, the No. 1 strength according to the survey was quality of life. Surveyors liked the location of Union County, including its open spaces and abundant recreation.

Other strengths included living in an agriculture community, educational system, job opportunities and low crime rate. Greater Regional Medical Center was mentioned more than once in the comments section of the survey.

“Greater Regional is a top-notch medical center,” one surveyor said.

“Members of the hospital staff are exceptional. It was an extreme relief when moving to the community,” another surveyor said.

Other positives included the dependability of the police and fire departments in the area, quality of education received at Southwestern Community College and McKinley Park Restoration project.

Challenges

The No. 1 challenge for Union County according to the survey was high property taxes. There were several comments regarding this challenge.

“Union County’s huge tax rate is a huge detriment to attracting people and businesses,” one surveyor said.

“Taxes are too high in part due to bad past bonding decisions,” another surveyor said.

A major concern in the survey was the lack of good rental properties. Surveyors felt rental properties in Union County are of poor quality and the area needs to “get rid of broken down rental housing that landlords just use to make money from people who come here that can’t afford anything better.”

Wayne Pantini, UCDA executive director, said another concern at the business level from surveyors was the lack of broadband Internet access available in the county. Pantini said the problem is common in rural areas, but said it’s a concern that will be focused on during the UCDA’s strategic planning session.

Other challenges included community leadership, youth retention, affordable housing and the need for more shopping and restaurant options. One surveyor suggested a small mini-mall with a multi-plex movie theater and nice restaurant would keep a lot of people in the area to do their shopping.

Surveyors felt another weakness was the Creston pool, stating “they’d rather go to Corning or Winterset.” And, many surveyors commented about the need to improve city and county streets.

Survey usage

Union County Development Association Board of Trustees will use this public input survey to help establish the organization’s 2013-15 strategic plan.

The trustees will take into consideration the input provided through this survey, along with the regional existing business survey conducted by the South Central Iowa Area Partnership.

“This survey validates what we already knew about Union County,” Pantini said. “We will take this survey into consideration and focus on different areas of concern as we establish a strategic plan for 2013-15.

“But, we must remember we all have a stake in selling this community. We will see growth if we maintain our properties and continue to make improvements in our business and social communities. We have to take care of what we have.”

A hard copy of the survey is available at the Creston Chamber of Commerce/UCDA office located at 208 W. Taylor St. in Creston. Pantini said the survey can also be received via email.

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